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Nun Tells Court of Generation Lost to Drugs

The Irish Times - Wednesday, May 10, 2000

A nun has told a manslaughter trial she attended a community meeting at which a suspected drug-dealer was given 24 hours to leave the area. Sister Elizabeth O'Brien told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that people in Dolphin's Barn were forced to remove drug-pushers from the area because they got very little support from TDs and gardai.

"Things were so desperate at the time. We saw a whole generation lost. What could you do about it?" she said on the fifth day of the trial of six men accused of killing Mr Josie Dwyer after the meeting.

Sister O'Brien told Mr George Birmingham SC, prosecuting, that she condemned the killing of Josie Dwyer and said it was not supported by Dolphin's Barn residents. She also said she did not want to see anyone being forced to leave the area, but the drugs situation was extremely serious at the time.

She said she also went on anti-drugs patrols with other women but there was nothing sinister in their approaches to drug-pushers. Sister O'Brien said women in the Dolphin's Barn area had to receive individual and group therapy after being questioned by gardai about the killing of Josie Dwyer. They had no previous contact with the law and the experience had left a bad atmosphere between local residents and gardai.

Judge Patrick McCartan adjourned the case for five minutes during another witness's evidence after the jury foreman appeared to fall asleep. When the court reconvened, Judge McCartan said the foreman also appeared to be "wilting" at Monday's court sitting and had the semblance of being asleep. He asked the foreman if he wished to stand down and said he understood it was difficult to respond in open court in front of all interested parties. The foreman replied that he wanted to stay on, and Judge McCartan told him he was "heartened" by the decision.

Six Dublin men have pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Dwyer (42) on May 14th, 1996. They also deny assault causing actual bodily harm on Mr Alan Byrne and violent disorder on the same date.

The six are: Mr William Kenny (55), St Anthony's Road; Mr John Kenny (40), Mr Martin Glynn (46) and Mr Christopher O'Shea (49), of Dolphin House; Mr Anthony Kelly (36) of Fatima Mansions, all from the Rialto area; and Mr Mark Alford (30) of Seagull House, Crumlin.

Sister O'Brien said, in cross-examination by Mr Sean Gillane for Mr Mark Alford, that Dolphin's Barn residents were left in isolation when heroin spread through the area in the 1980s. She and other members of the Dolphin House Community Development Association had frequent meetings with TDs and gardai but felt that little was being done to help. The association was told "just be patient. They were just watching it." She said there were no treatment services for heroin addicts at the time and crime was the only way young people could feed their habits.

Sister O'Brien said a large number of "lovely young people" had died of AIDS in the Dolphin House flats complex. She had helped bereaved parents and knew one woman who lost four children in about six years. When gardai called to the flats complex, the dealers moved away, but would soon return. They would whistle when they arrived at the flats, and all the addicts would "rush to the place".

Sister O'Brien said the relationship between the community and the gardai had improved before the death of Josie Dwyer and the gardai had approved of the anti-drugs patrols.

A Fatima Mansions resident, Mr Francis Roche, said that before he answered Mr Birmingham's questions, he wanted to make it clear that he never made a statement to gardai and the statement attributed to him was not read back to him in Kevin Street station.

He said he had been involved in the Concerned Parents group and had attended the meeting in the Dolphin's Barn community centre on the night Josie Dwyer was killed.

A man named Philip McLoughlan was called to the meeting and given 24 hours to leave. Mr Roche said people attending the meeting later dispersed. He was near Basin Lane later that night and saw a crowd of people but could not make out what was happening. One of the defendants, Mr William Kenny, was away from the main body of the group.

Another Fatima Mansions resident, Ms Sinead Costelloe, said she saw Josie Dwyer and Alan Byrne "getting battered" in Basin Lane. She recognised Mr Stephen Carney and Mr John Fitzpatrick but did not know the rest of the men involved in the attack. She added that Mr William Kenny and a group of women were stopping children from going down the lane. The hearing continues.